Bradfords celebrates 250th anniversary

Bradfords celebrates 250th anniversary

Bradfords Building Supplies is celebrating an incredible 250 years in business. PBM takes a look at the background to the thriving independent merchant — which was listed in 10th position in our annual countdown of the sector’s largest firms — and how it is marking the milestone anniversary. 

One of the oldest builders’ merchants in the UK, Bradfords Building Supplies was founded back in 1770 and now the company, which won the Independent Builders’ Merchant of the Year title (21+ branches) at the Builders’ Merchant Awards last year, boasts a turnover of around £150 million and currently employs 700 staff across 42 branches.

CEO David Young, who in the past five years has doubled company turnover, said: “Bradfords has stood the test of time; we are a great British business success story. The 250th anniversary is a time for celebration and also for reflection — in the past few months, we’ve questioned our customers, suppliers and team (past and present) to consider why the business has endured.

“The feedback has unanimously focused on the grassroots customer service that we provide for the local communities in which we operate. So, our focus for 2020 is to get even closer to our customers and put all our energy into being the best and easiest merchant to do business with.”

Giles Bradford, the merchant’s Communications & Engagement Manager and one of six Bradford family members currently working in the business, said: “In 1770 George III was on the throne and Captain James Cook discovered Australia. Also, my ancestor, William Bradford of Yeovil started a merchant business. A business that has witnessed the Industrial Revolution, survived two world wars, endured recessions, undergone significant diversifications, made numerous acquisitions and most critical to its success, always embraced innovation!”

Bradfords has chosen to use this significant birthday as a platform to invest in initiatives that benefit and champion the trades. For example, it has entered into a partnership with Mental Health UK, with fundraising initiatives through the firm’s Charity of the Year scheme whilst it has also committed to working with Band of Builders — a community that helps members of the construction industry when times get tough — to officially launch the charity in the South West.

The company has also commissioned a commemorative truck which will support a community engagement project with local primary school children to name all the vehicles in its LGV fleet. Through the initiative, the children will also learn about road safety and careers in the building trades.

Its ongoing sponsorship of the Exeter Chiefs will be supported with a grassroots rugby programme across the region to encourage more young people into the sport, whilst it is to broaden its support for apprentices in the South West to reach beyond Yeovil and Weston Super Mare through the supply of materials and tool kits to colleges in the area and to those customers with apprenticeship programmes.

Branch events for customers and suppliers will take place throughout the year, culminating in ‘Bradfords Day’ — the official birthday on 17th September 2020. Celebrating the milestone, a commemorative video series will explore the past, present and future of Bradfords.

To see the first video in the series to mark Bradfords’ 250th anniversary, visit

MKM Building Supplies

70th branch

Grantham is the location of the 70th branch in MKM’s ever-expanding network following the official opening of a new 1.88 acre site in the Lincolnshire town, creating 17 jobs and headed up by Branch Director, James Truman.

David Kilburn, MKM’s Executive Chairman, said: “This really is an exciting milestone for MKM. Opening our 70th branch in Grantham at the start of our 25th anniversary year is really something to celebrate.”

Howarth Timber & Building Supplies

Training programme

The latest graduates of Howarth Timber & Building Supplies’ 12-month training programme have passed with flying colours. Spearheaded by director Nick Howarth, the bespoke course was designed by branch managers at the firm and provides the fundamental skills for participants to learn and excel in an exciting career.

For the first six months, students work in a variety of departments, including health and safety, IT, customer service and project management to gain an understanding of the operation and its customers. Additional resources including e-learning and mentoring are also available to students during this time.

For the final six months, the trainees are given a portfolio of ten customers to manage and nurture and £500 to organise a customer event. The programme finishes with a presentation to the Institute of Sales Management (ISM) team and senior members of Howarth, where students demonstrate the skills they have learnt throughout the scheme.

Alistair Howarth, Jack Holleran, Nick Harlow, Paige Blanchard and Kyle Blakeston.

Parker Building Supplies

Teenage Cancer Trust support

Parkers’ ongoing support for the Teenage Cancer Trust has seen it raise more than £150,000 since 2010. Fund-raising initiatives have included golf days, football tournaments and even abseiling down Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower (pictured).

The merchant’s Sue McKinney said: “We’re delighted to announce that Parkers, along with Chandlers Building Supplies and Fairalls, will continue to play a significant part in helping Teenage Cancer Trust make sure no young person faces cancer alone.”

The charity’s Helen Farquharson added: “We are extremely grateful to the team at Parker Building Supplies for its incredible long-term support. Every £30 raised helps fund an hour of specialised nursing support for a young person having treatment for cancer, so the ongoing support will continue to make a difference to people’s lives.”

Related posts